There’s no delaying it now: Ridge Avenue in Roxborough will undergo months of construction and repairs.
At a Thursday night community meeting, officials from the Philadelphia Water Department and other city and state agencies described both the project and their efforts to limit impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods.
Beginning later this month, the PWD will replace two existing 6-inch water mains with a single 12-inch main along Ridge Avenue between Shurs and Walnut lanes and Manayunk Avenue.
Along with Ridge Avenue, PWD will conduct additional water-main replacements on nearby Roxborough roads including Jamestown Avenue and Magdalena, Osborn, Vicaris and Wendover streets.
The project was originally slated to start next year, but PWD bumped it up after receiving notification in January that PennDOT intended to resurface Ridge Avenue.
PWD is expected to complete its work in October, at which point attention will turn to the work along the side streets, which will continue into 2015.
PWD officials noted that the current infrastructure’s time of installation ranges from 1876 to 1936.
They also reported that 17 water-main breaks have occurred along Ridge Avenue since 1984, five of which happened in the past six years.
The affected area of Ridge Avenue will be divided into two segments, each of which will be worked on for two months, which the agency believes will limit disruptions to traffic, parking and pedestrian access. Two sets of crews will complete the work in an expedited fashion, PWD officials said.
While residents were worried about possible closures along this busy arterial, PWD emphasized that detours will not be necessary.
According to the PWD, the contractor will be required to maintain at least 10 foot-wide lane of traffic in each direction. Parking will be suspended in the work areas to accommodate the travel lanes.
Residents in the repair areas can expect water-service interruption at some point, but PWD officials stressed that they will last just a few hours. Residents will be notified 24 hours before an interruption.
No materials will be stored on site and no open excavations will be permitted overnight.
“We want to make sure that things are as clean and as buttoned-up as they can be,” said Joanne Dahme, general manager for public affairs at PWD.
A kinder, gentler public works project
At Thursday’s meeting, Dahme said her agency is committed to being “more sensitive” in its handling of projects.
Dahme observed that the Ridge Avenue work offers the first opportunity for PWD to implement this new policy.
To ensure that residents are heard, weekly meetings will be held between the PWD and community stakeholders. Project updates and offer a chance for feedback will be provided.
In addition, a PWD inspector will be onsite at all times during the project and available to address residents’ immediate concerns.
To allay the anxieties of business owners, city’s Commerce Department funding will be available to assist with marketing during the project and underwrite any additional clean-up efforts that may become necessary.
That money will be distributed in conjunction with the Roxborough Development Corporation; James Calamia, operations manager for the RDC, said his organization will serve as a liaison to the community.
“The RDC will be in the loop and will try to get that information out to the businesses,” he said.
The road ahead
Despite those assurances, some community members expressed concerns about the impact on homes and businesses.
Dr. Andrea Pedano, whose medical practice is located on the 5400 block of Ridge Ave., recalled issues associated with other recent roadwork projects. She said she was especially concerned about the impact of water shut-offs on her practice, which is required by law to have running water.
Dahme responded that the weekly meetings will allow for detailed projections about work progress, thereby giving business owners additional notice about shut-offs beyond the typical 24-hour notifications.
Addressing inquiries about bus detours, SEPTA officials said service would continue throughout the project, but that some detours may take place. In the fall, bus service for local schools will be uninterrupted.
Once work along Ridge Avenue is completed this fall, residents and commuters will have a few months to relax before PennDOT launches its ambitious road-resurfacing project.
The road repairs, which are part of a seven-mile PennDOT resurfacing project for Ridge Avenue that runs from Northwestern Avenue to 33rd Street, will begin next Spring.
PennDOT officials said most work will take place at night, with no outright street closures foreseen.
Work in the Roxborough sections of Ridge Avenue is expected to conclude by the time of the bike race, which is typically held the first weekend of June.